Monday, April 27, 2009

April Daring Bakers - Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I've only attempted cheesecake once and that was for my sister Kris' birthday when she came to visit us in Nashville. And in my opinion it was a bit of a disaster because the water leaked through the foil and made the crust soggy and the center of the cake was undercooked - yuck.

This time I was excited to attempt it again and see if I could conquer the cheese!
But sadly, the cheese conquered me......
After a ton of frustration and a LOT of cleaning, I waited another day and my husband convinced me to try it again...
And luckily, I was quite victorious!

Our assignment was to make a basic cheesecake from the recipe given by Jenny and then make whatever modifications we desired on the crust, flavors and toppings. My favorite cheesecake to order at the Cheesecake Factory is the Adams Peanut Butter Cheesecake, its ridiculous.
So I tried putting my own spin on it and made an Oreo cookie crust, then sprinkled the crust with a crunchy filling of Peanut Butter Cups and Butterfinger. Then I made the cheese filling and added some Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter and poured it over the crushed candies. I baked it for 50 minutes and let it cool in the oven. Then refrigerated it for a day and finished the decor with more crumbled candy filling and a peanut butter based frosting.
This cheesecake ROCKED MY WORLD and was well worth the second effort. I'll be adding this one to the recipe box for sure!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cause That's How We Roll

The 24-hr-read-a-thon was somewhat of a success. I say somewhat because a bunch of girls got together over at our friend Julie's home with books in tow and ready to enjoy a full long day of catching up on some much needed reading and relaxation...
Aww...can't you feel the heat of the sunshine just by looking at this picture? That would be myself, Amy and Julie out on the lawn reading and Tabby up on the porch. It was so lovely and so serene. And I even have the sunburned back to prove the hours of enjoyment!
Books, bare feet and blankets.
This is not a posed picture, we truly were sitting in our chairs, enjoying each other's presence and reading our books with either a glass of wine or in my case a bottle of G2 :-) Divine isn't it?
But then.....
We started to get a little distracted...
Maybe the heat was getting to us....
Or maybe we were taking an afternoon break to celebrate Melanie's birthday ghetto style. (click on picture for larger view)
Ain't nothing but a G-thing, right Rachel?
Here's Master-C blowing out her candle and receiving her dirt cake. (which is basically a cake made to look like a potted flower)
Cause that's how we roll yo.
It was such an awesome weekend. I almost finished one book, but I had puppy-duty from 5pm on and they took up a lot of time to watch. We are definitely going to do this again! And next time, collectively we'll track how many pages read.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Blessed Easter!

Last year during Easter, Jason and I made a bunch of food with the hopes of inviting our new neighbors over a hot meal and to get to know them better. Unfortunately no one turned out being home, so we celebrated alone that year. It's not exactly easy celebrating the holidays without family around, so this year I wanted to invite those in our small group without any family in town, over to celebrate with us! AND we also happened to have our dear friends Kate & Tom and their son Rocco in town visiting with us that day.

I couldn't have asked for a better day. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful 75 degrees outside, my friends all came together for a meal that turned out great and fed everyone, there were no puppy accidents in the house and we closed the evening with the guys taking turns playing some tunes. And did I take pictures of any of this? I did not. I know, slap my hand, I deserve it.

But I will post some pictures here that Tom & Kate took while visiting us and then also some that our close friend Ben DeRienzo took that Sunday morning at Easter service.

How adorable is that little guy? I swear Rocco took a piece of my heart with him when he left Tennessee. I luurve that boy!
He was the hit of the church service, flirting with the ladies sitting behind him and dressed in his Easter best!
Here's my very beautiful and very pregnant friend Alicia. I know right, I look more like the one that should be pregnant! Note to self - get a freakin tan!
I can only dream that I'll look this hot when I'm 6 months pregnant someday!
Some of my wonderful friends that I'm blessed to have, Ida, Tabby & Melanie. Ida and Tabby were part of the group that came over later for Easter dinner.
The Hallstroms hanging out at our house Sunday afternoon.
On Monday, we had the entire day to spend with Kate, Tom & Rocco. I really wanted to give them a taste of Nashville, but unfortunately there wasn't a whole lot happening in the city that day. So they didn't get to really see any live music, but we did take them through Broadway to see the honkey-tonks and then stopped for ice cream while we waited out an afternoon storm.
Rocco could care less about his new toy at the moment, he's eye-balling some vanilla fudge ice cream. Atta boy!After hitting downtown, we headed out to Opry Mills so Tom could check out Gibson and Kate and I could do a little shopping. Check out how pint-sized this guitar is for Rocco!
To finish the day off, we took Tom & Kate out to The Hermitage Cafe downtown for some real southern dinin'. This place is about as authentic as it gets. That's Linda, our waiter. We asked where we could sit and she said just as long as it wasn't in her "reserved tables". I asked "Who are your reserved tables for", she replied, "My drunks!" Haa - well, we thought it was funny. The diner opens at 10pm and stays open till 1.30pm the next afternoon and they have the best home-cooked food. Delish! Rocco was a total champ hanging out till the wee hours of the night!
Miss you Hallstrom fam - come back and see us soon!!